Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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Molding Quality Healthcare Professionals


By Lori Lovely

Many children dream of becoming doctors or nurses, but adults know that there are numerous other opportunities in the healthcare arena. There are a myriad of occupations in the health field, both clinical and non-clinical. Many of the fulfilling and lucrative non-clinical careers in the medical field don’t involve needles or bedpans.

In fact, Leah Grebner, Ph.D, RHIA, CCS, FAHIMA, Director of the Health Information Technology Department at Midstate College in Peoria and Amber Schappaugh, MA, RMA (AMT) Director of the Allied Health Department, both say they can’t produce potential employees for both clinical and non-clinical jobs fast enough. Local employers often call them, looking for graduates to fill open positions.

Historic Illinois College
Midstate College traces its origins to an 1857 commercial school in Peoria, but was formally established in 1888 after G.W. Brown purchased the school and named it Brown’s Business College of Commerce. Ever since then, the private, for-profit college has been a leader in professional training and education, currently offering 18 diploma and degree programs.

There are four programs that currently make up the Allied Health Department at Midstate College. Medical Office Technician, a diploma program; Medical Assistant, an associate degree; Health Services Management, a bachelor degree, and Pharmacy Technician, a diploma program. “All the programs are ‘stackable,’” says Amber Schappaugh, Director. “Each one works into the next degree.”

The Medical Office Technician program offers training in the medical reception position. This front office person manages the flow of patients and maintains a calm, efficient office. Entry-level duties may include answering the phone, taking payments, making appointments, and accessing records.

“A medical assistant typically works in a doctor’s office, supplementing the nursing staff,” Schappaugh explains. It’s a versatile role, juggling clinical and administrative duties. The latest trend under the Affordable Care Act is for a doctor to rely on both a nurse and a medical assistant in the office.

The Health Services Management Bachelor Degree prepares students for entry-level healthcare management positions in an array of specializations. Program content ranges from human resources to financial management in the healthcare setting. Graduates may seek positions that include office manager, healthcare facilities manager, or nursing home administration.

The Pharmacy Technician Diploma prepares students to work as entry-level pharmacy technicians or assistants under the direction of a licensed pharmacist, teaching them to fill and label prescriptions and work with insurance and billing. By the time the students complete the program, they will have knowledge of medication safety and be able to process and handle medications, based on regulatory and quality assurance standards. Graduates will be trained to work the clinical side of the pharmacy field as well as the administrative side, providing a full range of support to pharmacists, medical personnel, and customers.

Health Information Technology
Midstate College offers two programs in the Health Information Technology department: a two-year associate degree in Health Information Technology and a one-year diploma program in Medical Coding and Billing. These are also stackable programs, Grebner indicates.

Employment opportunities exist for the Health Information Technology professional in any industry that utilizes patient data. Examples include medical coding, compliance, privacy officer, security officer, electronic health record trainer, and electronic health record specialist. A medical coder reviews medical information documented in patient records, translating that information into specific codes used for billing, statistics, research, or other purposes.

Small school benefits
Midstate College’s Health Information Technology program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. The Medical Assistant Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

“The importance of accreditation is that it sets Midstate apart,” Grebner believes. “It holds us to a higher standard.”

There are other benefits of attending a smaller institution like Midstate College, which currently has about 700 students; each student receives more personal attention. The average ratio of student to professor is 8:1, Grebner indicates, while Schappaugh says classes in the Allied Health program are capped at 10 students.

Smaller class sizes facilitate a personal relationship between students and professors. The faculty is accessible, Grebner says. “Emails go to our cell phones. We often respond late at night and on weekends. We never turn it off!”

Owned by the Bunch family for 50 years, Midstate is currently run by President Meredith N. Bunch, who is a third-generation family member. The family atmosphere extends to students and faculty.

The majority of students who hail from the five surrounding counties are primarily adult, non-traditional students. “We were also non-traditional students,” Grebner reflects. “We understand their situations. Our students often don’t have parents at home to cheer them on, so we root for them.”

The personalized attention enables individualized education, another aspect of which is the ability to customize class schedules. The new flex learning option allows students to change the form of attendance week to week; they can choose to go to classes on-campus or attend online. Because the average student is 33 years old, and may be juggling family and work, that flexibility fosters attendance.

A convenient location on the bus line and easy parking are helpful assets that make things easier on students. Grebner stated that flexibility of scheduling and accessibility of faculty make Midstate College an excellent choice for busy adult learners.

For more information, please contact Midstate College at 309.692.4092 or